ICC Cricket Committee member Mahela Jayawardene on Wednesday (January 8) joined the bandwagon of cricketers strongly opposing the world cricket board’s proposal for making four-day Test matches mandatory from 2023.
The former Sri Lanka captain said Tests should remain a five-day affair even though the body he is a part of, will discuss curtailing the format to four days in an upcoming meeting.
Meanwhile, the concept of altering the tradition five-day format is witnessing growing criticism from several cricketers including Indian skipper Virat Kohli, legendary all-rounder Ian Botham, the iconic Sachin Tendulkar and Australian master batsman Ricky Ponting.
However, former India captain Anil Kumble, who heads the ICC cricket committee has said that the proposal will be discussed in the next round of the ICC meetings, to held in Dubai from March 27-31.
“We will discuss it in the meeting (in March, and I don’t know what will happen after that but my personal opinion is that it should remain five days. I would not want any change,” he told PTI expressing that he is personally against any change in the Test format.
The likes of Andrew Strauss, Rahul Dravid, and Shaun Pollock are also on the cricket committee.
The proposal, which has been floated for the 2023-2031 cycle, to declutter the crowded calendar in order to introduce more global events hasn’t gone well on former cricketers including Pakistan pace maestro Shoaib Akhtar who called the idea a conspiracy against Asian teams and urged that the BCCI will not let it happen.
However, member boards from England and Australia are open to the idea while BCCI boss Sourav Ganguly has said that “it is too early” to talk about it.
Ahead of the three-match T20 series opener against Sri Lanka in Guwahati last week, Kohli made his stance very clear on the subject.
“According to me, it should not be altered. As I said, the day-night is another step towards commercialising Test cricket and you know, creating excitement around it, but it can’t be tinkered with too much,” he had said.
“Then you are purely only talking about getting numbers, entertainment and you know. I think the intent will not be right then because then you will speak of three-day Tests. I mean where do you end. Then you will speak of Test cricket disappearing. So I don’t endorse that at all.”
Leading Australia spinner Nathan Lyon has termed the idea “ridiculous” and Australian great Ponting also expressed his disapproval of four-day Tests.
Most recently, Ian Botham, after witnessing England’s thrilling final hour win over against South Africa on the fifth day, tweeted “Well played England…Such a good idea to end 5day test cricket….full house watching cricket at its best !! Leave the flagship of cricket alone it’s a real test of character, skill, guts, stamina & ability…its real cricket for real players !!! Leave it Alone !!!!!!,” Botham tweeted after Ben Stokes’s three-wicket burst on the final evening ensured a series-leveling 189-run win for visitors.
Well played England…Such a good idea to end 5day test cricket….full house watching cricket at its best !! Leave the flag ship of cricket alone it’s a real test of character, skill,guts,stamina & ability…it’s real cricket for real players !!! Leave it Alone !!!!!!
— Ian Botham (@BeefyBotham) January 7, 2020
Among former players who want to see four-day Tests are Shane Warne, Mark Taylor and Michael Vaughan.
The ICC wants to try out four-day Tests primarily to free up space in the crowded calendar and use that time for the commercially lucrative shorter formats.
It is not a new phenomenon. England and Ireland played a four-day Test last year. South Africa and Zimbabwe too played one in 2017.
(With inputs from agencies)